Blowhole Question

From: Kim Marshall-Tilas (
Date: Sun Dec 17 2000 - 12:00:01 EST


>Dear Ashley:
>Both toothed and baleen whales have two openings to the nasal
>passage. In toothed whales they are divided internally so only one
>hole is visible where as baleen whale blowholes are separated at the
>surface to form two external blowholes.

The functional differences of toothed and baleen whale blowholes:
Under the toothed whale blowhole opening is a system of tuberances
off the nasal duct and the larnyx which is a goose shaped beak type
structure. All of these parts form a variety of air pockets allowing
the whale to emit measured amounts of air while under water as well
as vocalizations. A blowhole itself is a strong muscular formation
that closes tight and opens like a pair of lips.

In baleen whales there is no goose shaped larynx nor is there
tuberances off the blowhole. There is however a large sack shaped
protuberance on the bottom side of the larynx but the function of
this is not understood.

Make sure you check other information available on WhaleNet about this subject!
Thank you.

>Hi my name is Ashley and I am a junior in high school. One day I
>hope to be a marine biologist. But right now I'm in an AP Bio class,
>and one of our assignments is to do build a comparative
>anatomy/physiology model. I decided to compare a paired blowhole to
>a single blowhole. The physical differences are obvious, but I was
>wondering if there are any fuctional differences? Or if there are
>any differences in the way the two types of whales breath due two
>the different types of blowholes? Any other info that you think
>would be helpful or interesting would be greatly apprieciated! Thank
>you very much for all your help!

Kim Marshall-Tilas
Senior Director
Ocean Alliance/Whale Conservation Institute
191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA  01773
781.259.0423 or fax 259.0288

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